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This week we’re focusing on student leaders. If you are creating a student leadership program in your group, here’s a quick punch list with some basic ideas of what to avoid and what to include instead.

DON’T only ask the shiny students to join.
Too often the leadership of a youth group is made up of the “chosen ones”—the shiny kids who show up at everything or squeak the loudest. Instead, consider that one kid who is so close, yet so far away. What about the student who is totally on the outside, looking in? Instead of just obvious leaders, think outside the expected and see what happens.

DON’T let your meetings pull them out another night of the week.
Often times, being part of the student leadership program requires an extra night out every week. The result is that many students miss out on it because they can’t give up another night.

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49 Tips to Help Your Students!
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Instead, consider meeting on an occasional basis unattached to core programs (like youth group) so your students can be focused. We prefer once a month for a few hours, which gives us plenty of time with them but without an ongoing weekly commitment.

DON’T be afraid to give them big stuff.
Student leaders need to be challenged. The quickest way to disillusion these key teenagers is to be unprepared for your time together or waste their time with piddly projects. Instead, give them the teaching calendar. Let them plan services. Challenge them to come up with next quarter’s youth group calendar. Let them run wild.
DON’T be the only voice challenging them.
Many youth workers see the student leadership program as their chance to really “pour into” their students. While this may be true, you are robbing them if you insist you’re the only/best leadership voice they are hearing.

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49 Tips to Help Your Students!
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Instead, bring in an outside speaker every so often—the manager of the local Chick-Fil-A would be great (you might get some free food out of it, too) or even go on a field trip with your core students to a local business or spread them out to visit a few churches and report back about their experience.

What other student leadership DON’Ts would you share?

2 COMMENTS

  • Christian Waltmire says:

    I agree that we should not just ask the most popular youth. But there is something about having those who have already shown commitment to be the ones you ask to help lead.

    Asking those not plugged in to help with a one-time thing could be good. But, I have not had good success when asking those who are not plugged in to help with consistent leadership responsibilities.

    But, if they help with a one-time thing and then begin to show more excitement, that may be a time to step up what we ask them to help with on a more consistent basis.

  • bill krill says:

    Don’t be shy about the message. Too many ministries to youth, especially some para-church groups, tend to either water down the message to nil, or go no further than giving the basic Gospel message that most kids have already heard, but not ‘heard’.

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